NILES, Michigan – Berrien County officials are working on how best to distribute US bailout funds.

“We have to prepare today with what the federal government provides, $ 1.9 trillion is a huge amount of money, how best to use it to make it 30, 40, 50 years of impact on our community, ”said John Proos, director director of Strategic Leadership Council.

Representatives from Berrien County and its 39 townships, towns and villages met with the Strategic Leadership Council prior to the distribution of funds.

The county is expected to receive two payments of $ 15 million over the next two years, but municipalities still have to apply or leverage the county for some of their projects delayed by the pandemic.

“Imagine you could take some of the little money – not insignificant – at the municipal level and combine it with the resources of the county – which has almost $ 30 million – you could see big investments,” Proos said.

While Berrien County already has ideas on how to use the funding, such as repairing roads and bridges, improving parks and rural broadband, the Strategic Leadership Council has been asked to help them determine the uses authorized within the framework of the American rescue plan.

“As long as you are able to link this to pandemic support – not only necessary for human capital, but especially for those who have had significant funding challenges to access food, health care – you can imagine that there is a significant number of resources required. Said Proos.

Berrien County is also consulting with organizations like United Way of Southwest Michigan on money that could be donated for charitable expenses that have been cut short due to COVID-19.

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